Opening tomorrow, September 27, is Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei’s exhibition @Large in the former San Francisco Bay prison, Alcatraz Island. The sculpture, sound, and mixed media installations are staged in four locations throughout the space: the New Industries Building; a group of cells in A Block; the Hospital; and the Dining Hall. Ai’s work inside creates a dialogue about how we define liberty, justice, and individual rights.
In 2011, Ai was secretly detained by Chinese authorities for 81 days, and is still not permitted to travel outside of the country. He was unable to visit Alcatraz during the planning of the show and was developed in his studio with the help of the FOR-SITE Foundation.
There are a variety of pieces in @Large, including Trace, which is 176 portraits of political prisoners and exiles made from LEGO blocks. The impressive works began at Ai’s studio in Beijing and were completed in San Francisco by a team of 90 volunteers. Cheryl Haines, the exhibition’s curator told the San Francisco Chronicle, “I’m overwhelmed by how remarkable it looks. This is the face of the individual in the fight for freedom, but it’s also a collective statement and to see the density and quantity of people that are incorporated in this work, I find deeply moving.”
In addition to Trace, there are six other themes: With Wind, a giant traditional Chinese dragon kite; Refraction, stunning metal wings; Stay Tuned, sound installation that occupies 12 cells; Illumination, the sounds of Tibetan Buddhist and Native American chants; Blossom, fragile floral bouquets; and Yours Truly, where visitors can write postcards to prisoners. (Via FOR-SITE and Artnet)
On May 1st three american art students decided to jump the barriers surrounding Ai Weiwei’sSunflower Seedspiece at the Tate modern’s Turbine hall. This action was in protest against the barrier, against the original intentions of the work being inhibited by health and safety (originally museum visitors were to walk on the seeds), to support the release of Ai Weiwei by the Chinese government, and promote freedom of speech and art. The biggest surprise in the video comes when dozens of other museum members joined the three students in a spontaneous group protest. Now that’s power to the people! Watch the full video after the jump!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve heard about the arrest of prominent Chinese artists and activist Ai WeiWei by the Chinese Government. Ai Wei Wei and dozens of bloggers and artists were arrested earlier in April for “inciting subversion of state power,” a catch-all term used to jail anyone critical of Communist Party rule. Apparently The government is concerned that activists want to launch a “jasmine revolution” similar to the protests taking place in the Middle East.
Yesterday NPR released a great story about graffiti popping up all over China supporting the artist and demanding for his release. Street art is at its best when used to expose corruption. Taking your cause to the streets is one of the only ways to let your voice be heard In a country where the government won’t give a legitimate platform to its citizens. Lets hope that more people stand up to the government and demand that not just Ai Wei Wei but all political prisoners are released and that an open discussion can begin between the Chinese government and the countries 1.4 Billion residents.
Beijing-based activist-critic-curator-artist Ai Weiwei has survived internal bleeding just last year from police brutality for uncovering scandals circling the Sichuan earthquake student casualties (but really, China isn’t that scary, until you try to do something they don’t like), and unveiled his new installation at the Tate Modern. Entitled “Sunflower Seeds,” the piece is a corner to corner spread of porcelain sunflower seeds all individually hand-firedhand-painted, and all one of a kind. View the rest of the post to see the installation along with other works by Ai Weiwei.